On this fine Friday avo in our regular Beer O'Clock post, reflections on beers past from Real Beer's Neil Miller:
I had never seen an empty beer can used a prop at a political science lecture before. Professor Stephen Levine from Victoria University of Wellington was using a thirty-year old can of Billy Beer to make the point that even the President of the United States of American cannot choose his family.
Billy Carter was a constant embarrassment to his brother one-term President Jimmy Carter. Despite promoting “Redneck Power” pickup trucks, Billy is best known even today for the beer that briefly carried his name.
Billy Beer was launched in 1977 by the Falls City Brewing Company. Although the can states that the beer was “brewed expressly for and with the personal approval of one of America's all-time great beer drinkers - Billy Carter,” Billy himself had no input into the design of the beer. He was selected as the spokesman because, frankly, his brother was the President and Billy was already very well known for enjoying his beer.
The beer was actually produced by four different breweries in the seventies – Falls City Brewing Company, Cold Spring Brewing, West End Brewing and Pearl Brewing Company. Around 2 billion cans were produced so even today the cans are not as nearly rare as people think.
They are so common that the Brewery Collectables Club of America – who should know about these things – note “most of these [1970s] commemorative cans are still incredibly abundant and virtually worthless, most notably the ubiquitous Billy Beer.”
While there are frequently adverts offering to sell Billy Beer for hundreds or even thousands of dollars a can, the experts warn that these are basically fraudulent. Billy Beer sells for around US50c to a couple of dollars on eBay but the actual value to a collector is probably around 25c but only if it is in good condition and the collector – for some reason – really wants one.
So, all those people who were hoping that old sixer of Billy in the basement was going to see them through retirement should probably consult a financial planner. Billy Carter should have done that– after Billy Beer collapsed, he had to sell his home to settle the back taxes he owed the IRS.